Playoff Contention: Indiana Pacers
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Take a player like injured Danny Granger off most playoff teams and you are bound to see anywhere from a 5- to 10-win collapse.
Not the case with the 2012-13 Indiana Pacers, who once again used a starting five-man nucleus to roll to a top-tier seed in the Eastern Conference.
Some credit goes to point guard George Hill, who had already showed in the 2012 NBA Playoffs that he could not only replace former starter Darren Collison in their Fab Five lineup, but that he could also establish himself as a Top 10 player at his position in 2012-13 ala Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert.
Some goes to Lance Stephenson, who finally got his big shot at playing time and did not disrupt the Pacers' nice starting flow.
You also had to love the All-Star emergence of George--a legit All-NBA candidate too--who filled the shoes of big brother Danny Granger and kept the Pacers at top-flight contending status.
West played big as always, on both ends, as did rim protector Hibbert, who was one of many reasons why the Pacers maintained their standing as the No. 1 defensive team (95.9 points per 100 possessions).
The subs were never able to get a good thing going, but that is a problem Indiana management will have to take on this summer.
To be able to pick up where they left off (.623 this season, .636 last season), while losing Granger their leader for the season, you've got to say Coach Frank Vogel and his Pacers did a phenomenal job keeping the pace.
Only Oklahoma City's starting lineup has logged more playing time together than the Pacers' starting five of Hibbert, West, George, Stephenson and Hill. The Indiana quintet has the better net rating per 100 possessions of the two (Indiana has a +12.9 net rating in 1154 minutes; OKC has a +11.3 in 1254 minutes). The Pacers reserves are not nearly as good, but they can hold their own. The main four subs--D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi--have a +0.2 net rating in 219 minutes together. It's not going to add to any leads, but at least the starters know with a couple resting at a time, the second-string crew can somewhat hold the fort down until their second- and fourth-quarter returns.
THE 5,000 MINUTE RULE
The 5,000 Minute Rule says most championship teams have five-plus players together for at least 5,000 minutes before they win a championship. Techincally speaking, the Pacers will probably have five players in The 5G Club, but since injured Granger is one of them, for all intents and purposes, it's really four: Hibbert (9853 minutes with the Pacers), George (6548), Hansbrough (5088), while West (4641) could possibly hit that level. For what it's worth, Granger has played 17,794 minutes with Indiana, but is out for the season with a knee injury.
LORD OF THE RINGS
Backup center Ian Mahinmi is the only Pacer to have a ring, winning one with the Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA championship team. He played a total of 28 minutes in the 2011 NBA Finals as the third-string center behind Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood.
Hollinger Playoff Odds say Indiana has a 18 percent chance to reach the 2013 NBA Finals and 6 percent shot to win the NBA championship; Basketball-Reference says the Pacers have a 17 percent shot to reach the 2013 NBA Finals and 5 percent chance to win the title.
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C ROY HIBBERT: 75 games, 28.7 mpg, 11.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 17.3 PER, +10.4 Net, +10.8 On/Off
C Ian Mahinmi: 76 games, 16.5 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 11.1 PER, -3.3 Net, -13.9 On/Off
PF DAVID WEST: 69 games, 33.4 mpg, 17.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 20.1 PER, +9.3 Net, +9.2 On/Off
PF Tyler Hansbrough: 76 games, 16.7 mpg, 7.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 15.9 PER, +0.7 Net, -7.9 On/Off
PF Jeff Pendergraph: 33 games, 9.4 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 13.1 PER, +7.6 Net, +1.9 On/Off
PF Miles Plumlee: 12 games, 3.8 mpg, 0.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 5.4 PER, -1.8 Net, -7.8 On/Off
SF PAUL GEORGE: 75 games, 37.6 mpg, 17.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 17.3 PER, Net, On/Off
SF Danny Granger: 5 games, 14.8 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 4.0 PER, Net, On/Off
SF Sam Young: 51 games, 12.4 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 7.6 PER, -4.6 Net, -12.7 On/Off
SG LANCE STEPHENSON: 73 games, 29.2 mpg, 8.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 11.6 PER, +10.4 Net, +10.7 On/Off
SG Gerald Green: 56 games, 18.1 mpg, 6.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 9.1 PER, +1.2 Net, -8.9 On/Off
SG Orlando Johnson: 46 games, 12.3 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 12.9 PER, +3.0 Net, -3.4 On/Off
PG GEORGE HILL: 72 games, 34.5 mpg, 14.1 ppg, 4.6 apg, 16.4 PER, +9.7 Net, +11.6 On/Off
PG D.J. Augustin: 71 games, 16.1 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 2.3 apg, 11.6 PER, -0.5 Net, -9.3 On/Off
PG Ben Hansbrough: 26 games, 7.0 mpg, 1.8 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 5.0 PER, -9.0 Net, -15.7 On/Off
2011-12 GONE PACERS (.636)
PG Darren Collison: 60 games, 31.3 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 4.8 apg, 13.6 PER, +3.5 Net, +1.0 On/Off
SG Leandro Barbosa: 22 games, 19.8 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 13.4 PER, +0.3 Net, -3.8 On/Off
PF Louis Amundson: 60 games, 12.6 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 11.5 PER, -3.3 Net, -8.3 On/Off
SG Dahntay Jones: 65 games, 16.2 mpg, 5.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 10.3 PER, -4.0 Net, -10.5 On/Off
PG A.J. Price: 44 games, 12.9 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 2.0 apg, 11.5 PER, +0.5 Net, -3.1 On/Off
C Kyrylo Fesenko: 3 games, 5.7 mpg, 2.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 29.8 PER, +19.5 Net, +15.2 On/Off
* Pacers that did not play in 2012 NBA Playoffs; returning players in boldface